Word of the Week: Sometimes an illustration overshadows the point being illustrated

By Pastor Joe Gale, Calvary Chapel Fernley

It has been almost a year since I last submitted something to the Fernley Reporter ‘Word of the Week’. Last April I wrote about the simplicity of a walk of faith I search for and the reasons I began that search. The revelation which began my search has just been confirmed and reconfirmed continually since the last time I shared here.

By those confirmations, my belief the ‘man created complexity’ of Christianity has made living the life the Lord Jesus Christ came to die to provide more difficult to know and even more difficult to experience. So the question remains, if we can unravel ‘Pandora’s Box’, just how do we do it? It is simple, just as Hadrian’s Wall across Scotland was built – one brick at a time. Find a brick and remove it.

So, what is the first ‘brick’ to tackle? My solution is to just grab one, you want to simplify the Word of God so you can apply it remember this: ‘Illustrations, Illustrate’.


How often is the simple application of the Word of God lost because we focus on the illustration instead of what is being illustrated? For example, the ‘full armor of God’ in Ephesians 6:10-20. How often does the ‘armor’ take the lead instead of: righteousness, salvation, truth, etc.? The armor is a great illustration but too often the armor gets the front seat and the illustrated gets lost.

For example: I’ve seen teachers having mock sword fights, but never show how faith and the Word and faith in the Word work together. We lose our focus because we focus on the illustration and without focus we will never know the application.

We can go to a Bible Book Store, and buy armor play sets. Christians daily pantomime putting on armor. Can you see how suddenly the illustration rises higher than application? Or often seen application of this principle; your pastor gives an illustration as a part of the message, for example from sports or their latest fishing trip. When greeted at the door as you depart there are more comments about the illustration than the point which was being illustrated.

What is worse is people who spend the rest of the message waiting to correct the pastor’s illustration or to tell their own similar ‘Sea Story’. As the hand that is being shaken, I wonder how much of the message’s points are heading home.

By the way, how many of you are thinking about sports, how much you dislike sports illustration or are thinking about fishing? Be sure to separate the illustration from what is being illustrated and use the power of the illustration to amplify the point for better application.

As you read the Bible, look to see what of the passage is ‘illustration’ and what is being ‘illustrated’. For certain there is power in illustrations, as long as they find their place and remain there.

Think about this: there is a parable in the Gospels about a sower of seeds sowing seeds. All parables are just very defined ‘illustrations’. Look at the ‘Parable of Sower’, at title of the passage added by man, I think a better title is ‘The Parable of the Soils’ found in Matthew 13.

The power of the illustration to demonstrate our lives is wonderful unless the application is lost. We see the LORD as ‘The Sower’ and we see HIS’ TRUTHS as the seeds sown, but what is lost in the illustration is where are we?

Remember, in applying the Word of God, we are the focus of the application, so we have to see ourselves. So who, or what, or how are we portrayed in the ‘Parable of the Sower’, and how does the illustration help us gain a simple application?

Have a look at it and see if we come to the same conclusions, next time.

One thought on “Word of the Week: Sometimes an illustration overshadows the point being illustrated

  • Kathryn

    Continue to share your inspiration. Very well done.


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